Temples like Srirangam and the Varadaraja temple in Kanchi are governed by the Pancharatra agama. P.T. Seshadri elaborated on the meaning of Pancharatra in a discourse. Sri Prasna Samiuta, says ratra denotes ajnana, and pancha denotes that which destroys ajnana. Lord Narayana has five forms — Para, vyuha, vibhava, antaryami and archa — and hence the name Pancharatra.
Whatever benefits you get through the Vedas, Vedanta, Puranas, Sankhya and yoga sastra, you get easily through the Pancharatra. So, the name Pancharatra is justified, says Paushkara Samhita. Ratra also means jnana. Jnana is of five types, and this is called artha panchakam. These five are dealt with in Pancharatra texts, which talk of Bhagavath swarupa, jiva swarupa, the means to reach Him, the hurdles in the path, and Purushartham (what you obtain by reaching Him). Narada Samhita has another interpretation of the word Pancharatra. Karmendriyas are five in number, and so are the jnanendriyas. There are also five elements. The karmendriyas, jnananendriyas and elements are fundamental to life on earth. The sabda ‘ra’ means adhara, or that which sustains. The word ‘atra’ means to save. Since the Pancharatra saves us from all these things that lead to repeated births and deaths, it is called Pancharatra. This is the definition given by Viswamitra Samhita.
Ahirbuddhnya Samhita says the qualities of the five forms of Vishnu are described in the Pancharatra agamas, and that is why they are so called. Markandeya Samhita says that since the Pancharatra agama was narrated by Lord Narayana to Brahma over a period of five nights, it is called Pancharatra. Alavandar wrote a work called Agama Pramanyaand Vedanta Desika wrote a work called Pancharatra Raksha.